A psychoanalysis of fictional characters

This is according to Psychoanalytical theory, where different characters represent the Id, ego and superego, unconscious, subconscious and conscious mind. Symbolism, dreams and strange character behaviour are used in order to understand characters, motifs and imagery. In this case, we’re looking at characters. This is relevant to creative writing because it will help you see characters as flawed and as people, rather than as figures or props. And fictional characters are not supposed to be perfect, so don’t write them this way.

1. Sociopathy

Sherlock Holmes is a classic sociopath. He feels no embarrassment, regret or remorse and has extreme difficulty in saying sorry. He comes across as being quite appealing; charismatic, spontaneous. and intelligent, but is introverted and doesn’t let anyone get close to him. His intelligence is probably due to his intense interests, and might explain why he’s introverted. He may speak poetically, but stay away – he won’t love you back. Fortunately, his job requires him to be quite objective.

2. Multiple Personality Disorder

The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a good  example. Dr Jekyll crafted his alter ego by using magic potions, thus creating his opposite Mr. Hyde. Technically, this is actually a split personality, but it is more commonly referred to as MPD. Freud might say Mr. Hyde was created from repressed evil desires, since this is what Dr Jekyll feels he has been battling. Thus, his “good” and “bad” moral sides are imbalanced.

3. Paedophilia

Humbert Humbert desires 12-year-old  stepdaughter Lolita. He still seems to love her as time goes on, but she is only 17 at her oldest. In particular, this is Hebephilia, which is a specific form of Paedophilia to pubescent girls. Humbert may be looking for someone who has not been corrupted by age and experience (perhaps not sexual, since she had sex with a boy at camp before Humbert). It is suggested he is attracted to her because of her resemblance to Annabel, thus suggesting that he may want a better relationship with Annabel. Failing to do so, he creates a “new Annabel” in Dolores.

4. Peter Pan syndrome

Peter Pan is the founder of this disorder. It incorporates immaturity, juvenile behaviour and wanting to stay young forever. Peter Pan does not seem to like the idea of growing into an adult, because he is afraid of the responsibilities, duties and could be insecure about his own abilities. Therefore, he’d rather stay young forever. Whilst he is brave and fearless, he’s also reckless. Characters like this often think they’re right. What can start off as a simple quirk or habit can be interpreted as being part of this syndrome.

5. Narcissism

This comes from Narcissus, who actually saw a water spirit where his reflection in the water would be. Now, it is applied to someone who is quite vain. Jay Gatsby is often  thought of  narcissistic. He seems to be under the impression that he’s so brilliant, Daisy will love him. And yet nobody’s good enough for him.

6. Bipolar disorder

Carmilla seems to have sudden mood changes, and can be very “languid” at times. These are symptoms of bipolar disorder, and her crazy nighttime behaviour might suggest bipolar tendencies. Katy Perry’s ‘love bipolar’ seems particularly relevant to Carmilla, especially since a lot of her sudden mood changes are due to Laura’s influence on her.

7. Narcolepsy

Sleeping Beauty is surely a classic example. She sleeps for a long time, without waking up, which might suggest her sleeping habits are amiss. Whilst the spell is broken once the prince lifts the spell, we don’t know what happens in between. How would she be fed, for instance? Perhaps she gets and eats in her sleep, but does not remember doing so.

8. Schizophrenia

Renfield? He seems largely delusional, in particular about eating animals alive in a hierarchy, so he can absorb lives. He’s quite unorganized and often talks nonsense, which may be because he has a disorganized mind. He doesn’t experience many emotions, and has no desire to form relationships with other people.  Plus, he’s under the impression that if he worships Dracula, he gains immortality.

9. Insomnia

Edward Cullen and Fight Club‘s “Joe”. Neither of these characters can sleep, and have dark circles around their eyes. For Joe, it’s probably his very boring job and lack of masculinity. For Edward, he may be distressed about Bella – and having no soul. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult cycle to break, and may cause the appearance of having dulled emotions.

10. Invisibility

Harry Potter puts on the cloak of invisibility.This is normally to complete a fairy tale task, but he wishes he was normal to begin with. Perhaps he just wants to blend in with the background and not have his scar brought up…

11. Icarus complex

Anderson’s The Little Mermaid seems to fit all of Henry Murray’s criteria. She has a garden in the shape of the sun, which is a ball of fire. And she wishes to rise up to the human world, and falls from grace. Because she lives in the water, there is a lot of water imagery. She wants an immortal soul, which is another symptom. And, she is disobedient and seeks attention, dissatisfied with her life as a fish.

12.  Napoleon complex

In Shrek, Lord Farquad compensates for his diminutive stature with a massive castle. It’s an ongoing joke that everything must be brought down to his height, and he deals with this by trying to be a ruling king.

13. Haemophobia

Bella Swan literally faints at the sight of blood. She can’t stand it – yet she is dating a vampire. It’s even weirder when she says she can smell blood – no wonder she feels faint. She feels anxious and nauseous at the sight or thought of any blood being shed

14. Dissociative fugue

Doctor Who seems to suffer from this. It’s prevalent when regenerates, if this is what we shall call it.  He creates a new identity, goes away for long periods of time and forgets who he is, some of the symptoms of this. He has even forgotten what he did whilst he was human for a while.

15. Factitious disorder

Marla Singer, like the narrator, pretends to have various illnesses in order to boost her self-esteem and ease her depression. She may be doing this because she feels unloved, or it might be to attract the attention of the narrator. But any character who has this is indeed ill, because it is a compulsion for them. Other types include school skivers,like Bart Simpson.

16. Attention Deficit Disorder

Perhaps the Tasmanian Devil might be appropriate? He dashes around everywhere, is easily distracted and is never tired. This disorder is normally characterised by endless energy, a short attention span and never seem to pay attention.

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